5 Top Tips for Thriving in Quarantine with Kids

Making Art

Are you planning to quarantine with small children? Nervous that one of you might not make it out alive? Well, then this blog post is for you! Here are some tips, tricks and ideas from my 21 day hotel quarantine with a toddler that will not only help you survive, but THRIVE!

Pipe-cleaners came in very handy for dramatic play and role playing. I had them in a few activity bags as well as in the Survival Kit.
  1. 1. Stick to a Schedule
  2. Young children thrive within set boundaries and routine. Whether you are quarantining with another adult or doing it solo, take time to write down a daily schedule and try to stick to it. It will not only help your little ones find comfort in knowing what comes next but it will help keep you sane by having to only focus on the next thing scheduled rather than thinking about the entire day ahead. Meals, naps, bedtime, high energy activities, quiet time etc. should all have a set time slot which will help keep make everyone feel more settled.
Here is the schedule that my husband and I used when we had our 21 day hotel stint. My husband had to work and be on calls at certain times of the day and we arranged the schedule as to accommodate that.

2. Schedule Screen Time

Screen time should also be scheduled. From my experience, if I use the iPad or TV shows willy-nilly, transitions become more challenging, tempers flare and tantrums increase. It may feel good at the time to give in and let your kiddo watch a show or two but you will pay for it. Make screen time an event, have a start time and an end time and switch up what is being consumed. One day have a movie, the next games on the iPad and another can be shows.

3. Prepare a Survival Kit

If you are quarantining in a hotel, make sure to prepare a Survival Kit. Just like you would not go out into the wilderness unprepared, the same goes for hotel quarantine! Tools, art supplies and basic stationary items are a must to ensure you have everything you need to stay alive! Items such as scissors, glue & stick glue, markers, crayons, a stapler, string, an exacto knife or box cutter, masking tape, clear tape, sticky tack, pipe cleaners, play-dough, modelling clay, paint brush and a watercolor set are a must!

Simple art supplies such as oil pastels and watercolor are great for multiple ages and easy to clean-up.
Modelling clay is a must as it is not crumbly like play dough and can attach to toys and figurines for imaginative play.
Use the modelling clay to add wings, equipment and appendages to your little ones favorite toys!

4. Pre-Plan & Prepare Activities

THIS SAVED ME! Before my trip and inevitable quarantine, I planned 21 different themes to help anchor each day’s activities. I then printed off coloring sheets, gathered stickers, toys from home, toys, treats and other items that would help support the theme. Because creativity happens within boundaries, having a theme helps you come-up with ideas in the moment, coordinate movies, shows, games and books that go along with the theme and imaginative play ideas. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with when you have a theme to base your ideas off of and I guarantee you will enjoy it as much as your little one will.

Each bag included items found in my house or classroom and all the coloring sheets were found free on the internet.
I also included some new toys and treats that went with the theme to keep things exciting and made sure to space out the bags with new toys.
Here is an example of a pre-planned activity in the ‘Fairy Tale’ activity bag. I prepared a cardboard sword cut-out and some tin foil to make some equipment for our little knight.

The above list includes the themes I came up with based on the interests of my child as well as the toys and books I knew I had access to. The themes could obviously vary based on the age and interests of your child.

5. Make Something from Nothing

Creativity is not only making something out of nothing but also making something despite everything! Boxes, containers, scrap paper, cushions and blankets all can become something new and different keeping you and your kids entertained. Then using the theme and the items from your Survival Kit can aid you in making magic by creating something from nothing. So save those empty containers and cardboard boxes as you can use them for hours of fun that encourage creativity, teamwork and problem solving.

I turned this box and cardboard scraps into a Paw Patrol Command Center and gas station using my exacto knife from my Survival Kit.
We created a fire truck on ‘Fire Rescue Day’ using all things we had available in our hotel room and Survival Kit.

A few other items that we enjoyed and used often were Coloring My Bath Tablets, Melissa & Doug Stick-able Sticker Book, National Geographic Readers books and a foldable step stool for water play in the sink as we did not have one in our hotel.

Remember if you are calm, collected and settled, then so will your kids. Try your best to look for the positives in the situation – no commitments, simple living and uninterrupted together time. Before you know it, it will be over and when life is crazy and chaotic you will reminisce about having nothing to do by play with your kids in a hotel room.

Dot Day Display

Making Art

I love celebrating International Dot Day as it promotes a great message and an opportunity for students to create a display to kick-off the school year. However, after celebrating for many years, I am trying to now come up with different ideas for the lesson and creative new ways to tie in other learning. Here is my 2020 International Dot Day lesson and display linking the message of starting with dot and also overcoming mistakes and oops inspired by the book of Barney Saltzberg.

After reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds, all grades were given a piece of paper with dye cut and hole punched circles. Shocked by this, I recommend that we throw them all away because we couldn’t use paper with holes in it. Student vehemently protested and played right into my hands. We thought of Vashiti and how she started with dot just like us but out dots here holes like in the book Beautiful Oops

Using LINES, SHAPES & COLORS, students add designs and images based around their holy spots. Students then added liquid watercolor on top. This was the first lesson students had back in the art room so it was a good way to manage safe and distanced use of materials and simple clean-up while getting to duse materials they likely had not used in a while. This lesson was facilitated in 30 minutes for Reception 1 (Pre-K) to Grade 2.

Once every class was finished, my partner and I backed an entire wall with black paper before stapling 700 + individual artworks to the wall creating a huge holy spotty dotty wall.

I know many of you out there, like me, have done the typical Dot Day lesson and display of a swirly gold frame of painted paper plates with a cut-out of Vashti painting them along the wall. So file this one away for future Dot Days as it promotes the same message but also helps students look at negative space as a means to generate ideas as well as promoting using an oops, like a hole in your paper, as an opportunity to create!

Making Music for the Artroom

Making Art


Six year ago I began learning the ukulele with the intention of singing and writing my own music. My personal hobby has now become a teaching tool as I have come to write and sing songs created for the art room! The songs below are about different famous artists and the lyrics are inspired about each artists life and artwork. Thank you to Lauren Lorentzen & Danielle Solan, two amazing music teacher who have helped me record an add vocals and accompaniment.

Jackson Pollock

Yayoi Kusama

Wassily Kandinsky

Henri Matisse


Shibori Baby Shower

Making Art

As an art teacher, I could not settle for a brunch or a high tea for my baby shower. If I was gathering some of my closest family and friends to celebrate Baby Lang we were going to make art together, gosh darn it! Hence the Shibori Baby Shower was born!


Guests were provided with baby onesies, blurb towels and muslin blankets to dye at the party. I demonstrated four different folding and binding techniques; Triangle fold, Sprial Bind, Scrunch Bind, and Square/rectangle fold. Guests than wet their bound bundle in water to aid in the dyeing.

Once wet, guests could begin dipping their items in the indigo dye vat. For the dye vat, I used two large plastic storage containers with lids. The lids are needed to cover the vats before and after. The items needed to be dipped at least twice to ensure the indigo colors are dark and the dye can soak into the areas that are not bound creating contrast in the dyed designs.

Twenty minutes between each dip need to allotted to allow the dye to oxidize. The items will initially look green as the indigo color or appears when it reacts with the air. SCIENCE!

Plastic bags were used to contain the wet items between dips. After the final dip, the items were unbound and rinsed in cold water until all the water ran clear. Once rung out, the items were hung to dry.

I ordered the Shibori Dye Kit from Amazon and used 3 kits total to 30 guests and dye roughly 60 items. By the end of the shower, the dye baths were exhausted. Below is a list of items needed in addition to the dye kits.


Shibori Supplies & Materials:

Rubber bands, binder clips, latex gloves, large containers for dye vats, plastic bags for storage, natural fibered clothing or fabric (100% cotton absorbs the dye the best,  dying of synthetic fibers do not yield as bright an bold color contrast)

Everyone had a wonderful time, the cost to host and for guests to attend was minimal and the afternoon was spent celebrating the arrival of a baby by making art.


Screen Printing Practice

Making Art

The last time I screen printed was in high school and my choice of imagery was related to Dave Matthews Band. So, when I saw that there was a workshop hosted by Make and Do HK for an introductory screen printing class, I signed up immediately to bring focus to my foggy memory of the process and to block out the poor imagery choices I made when I was 18 years old.

Prior to the workshop, the facilitator asked the participants to bring in two copies of an image that they wanted to screen print. Providing examples of what would be successful, I choose to select something that was related to Hong Kong and could be used for Christmas present making opportunities. Teapots it was!


Using contact paper and Exacto knives, we carefully cut out our imagery and then put the stenciled contact paper directly onto the screens. This process took the longest as once printing started, things moved fast and messily! Acrylic paints were used to print which made for fast drying prints and endless color options. From overlapping prints to marbling colors, it was a fun way to revisit the screen printing process and view it through the lens of an art educator rather than student artist.

The process that was taught used simple materials and could be easily adapted for young learners and has definitely got my mind revving of the potential lessons that could be facilitated or Grade 1 or 2. In lieu of Exacto knives, students could simply cut out shapes in contact paper with scissors and stick it on to the screen. To cut down on the need for 20 plus screens, a few students could collaborate on one screen building up a pattern. Because they would stick the contact shapes it would print the negative but the learning is still there and great exposure to screen printing.


Thank you to Pinyin Press and Sara Armstrong, a boss babe who has taken her love of printmaking and design and transformed it into a thriving business!


There’s No Place Like Home

Making Art

I began my Masters of Arts in Art Education from Boston University in August of 2016. When I began the online master’s course one year ago, I knew I wanted to attend the optional Summer Studio Session where I would attend intensive studio courses on the BU campus alongside other art educators completing the same program.

From devoting nine consecutive days to the practice of my own art making to collaborating, learning, and being inspired by other artists and art educators, my experience at BU Summer Studio Session 2017 garnered the realization that I am not just an art teacher, I am an artist.


‘You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.’ – Glinda, The Good Witch

You Always had the Power

The two Summer Studios I elected were Storytelling Through Ceramic Hand-Built Structures and Relief Printmaking. Having not actively nor seriously created my own art since my undergraduate degree or having spent much time in the US since moving to China in 2009, I felt confused by my identity as an expatriated American, overwhelmed by the courses expectations, anxious about my capabilities and intimated by the abilities of others on the course. To help me remain focused and confident, on the eve of the studio sessions I decided to pull from prior experiences, stories, and inspiration I had used before when experiencing similar feelings. I was Dorothy Gail, swept up into a twister, dropped in a strange and complicated land destined to find her way home through brains, heart, and courage.


In my junior year of high school, I was cast as Dorothy in the 2002 Spring musical of The Wizard of Oz. Having tried out for the part of the Cowardly Lion, I was surprised, alongside the rest of the student body and staff, that I had received the role of Dorothy. Having a slight resemblance to Judy Garland certainly helped me obtain the lead. Although intimated, overwhelmed and anxious about the leading role, I delivered a respectable portrayal of Dorothy Gail through hard work, perseverance and a strong set of lungs.


15 years later, in Boston, I was once again Dorothy, searching for home, feeling meek and insignificant and relying on the help and teachings of others to find my way. My body of artwork created this summer in both clay and print revolved around these ideas, the iconic imagery of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz motion picture, China as my current home and big brother and the exploration of my identity, strengths, and weaknesses.

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From woodblock prints and drypoint on plexi to pronto plates and oil paint monoprints, I developed my skills in printmaking to create artwork that told a story, generated discussion and pulled upon popular culture and current events.




In ceramic, I referenced and played with the dichotomy of Glinda’s floating orb and the floating head of The Wizard of Oz to represent different faces, phases, and sides of myself in three slab and coil relief hangings. The floating head of The Wizard can also be seen in several prints represented as Chinese children.

A large landscape vessel also created in terra cotta clay represents the different places I have called ‘home’. Grand Rapids, where I was born and raised, is represented at the bottom of the vessel depicting the Grand River and the Sixth Street Bridge, Shanghai by The Pearl Tower, The Shanghai World Financial Center and Shanghai Tower, Hong Kong by The Bank of China Tower and Peak Tower and The Emerald City which represents Boston, my future and the hopes in the horizon.

Glinda said that ‘Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart and knowing your courage. If we know ourselves we are always home, anywhere.’ My time at Boston University Summer Studio Sessions has helped me find my way home as an educator, artist, and adult. I will continue to look East, at the invisible glowing green horizon wondering whats next but now better knowing that as long as I know myself, I am always home.

I want to thank the characters I met along the way who helped me follow the cobblestone road. Thank you to Joshua Brennan, Technical Associate Printmaker, Instructor and Lecturer at Boston University, and Megan Samson, Ceramics Instructor and Adjunct Lecturer at Boston University, for their patience and exemplary teaching. To my roommates, classmates and now friends, thank you for inspiring me to push, pull, play, plan and persevere. Like Good Glinda also said, ‘It’s not where you go, but who you meet along the way…’

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Why Art Teachers are Obsessed with Halloween

Making Art

It is almost that time of the year, when your neighbourhood art teacher sharpens their scissors, reloads their glue gun and turns their fingers into needles. HALLOWEEN IS UPON US! I can confidently say that every art teacher I know and follow loves Halloween. From the idea that you can be anything to the fact that our profession essentially grooms us for the very day, art teachers are obsessed with Halloween and here is why.

1. Halloween = Popular Culture

Halloween costumes each year are indicative of popular culture, also known as visual culture, and can be used as a way to investigate what students are interested in along with society. As stated in Moore’s 2004 article, “Aesthetic Experience in the World of Visual Culture”, teaching visual culture helps practices putting oneself in another’s shoes, for entertaining changes of perception and interpretation, for careful attention to fine distinctions and nuances, for appreciating composition within a frame or framework, and so on. And although kids and adults don’t even know that they are doing it, they are participating in an aesthetic based selection of what and how to present themselves in and through popular culture when dressing up for Halloween.


2. Halloween champions creativity and innovation

Some will always and forever go for the store bought costumes (sacrilege in my opinion) but many people, kids and adults, pull from within and generate innovating Do-It-Yourself costumes on a shoe string budget. What other time of year does the average mom use all of her artistic talent to create a fairy costume for her seven year old? Okay, maybe for school plays but you get my drift.


3. Halloween is the Super Bowl for art teachers

Everything that we do for our job is the equivalent to pre-season training for October 31st. Hoarding toilet paper tubes, knowing where to buy the cheapest fabrics and puffy paint, knowing our way around small hand tools and having a small army of children that could potentially help, gives us a home turf advantage on game day. And like concussions, with every hot glue gun burn we become stronger and are able to cover more yards to score a that 100 GRAND…candy bar.


*No small children were exploited in the making of these costumes.

4. Creating a costume is creating art

If efficient and accurate data entry into an Excel spreadsheet had a holiday, you would be excited too, accountants! Halloween allows art teachers a day in the year where we can showcase our talents and create art via costume design. Like any piece of art, careful planning, sketching, reconnaissance missions for supplies and resources and construction must all be completed before the deadline. Although art teachers are creating art via demos, extracurricular classes and/or on their own time, Halloween is a fun way to practice what we love and celebrate alongside others who have participated in creating something special and artistic for Halloween.


5. You get to be anything you want to be

Think about it! There is a day, a magical day, where we are allowed, kids and adults alike, the opportunity to become anything they want to be. This can be very powerful. Let’s face it, Halloween is no longer about ‘being scary’ it is about changing your appearance in any way that you wish. Like aesthetics in art, dressing up is a way in which we can take from our own experiences and view of the world and see it from another others persons lens. In this case a fairy, penguin, historical figure and/or sexy corpse (ahem).



6. Halloween = candy and partying

Even if you do just buy the store bought costume and want to put minimal effort into the participation of Halloween, remember it is all about candy. Sorry pagans and devil worshipers, this is the truth. Halloween has a soft Tootsie Roll centre. Candy is so powerful we need to teach children not to take candy from a strangers. For adults, it is a reason to dress up, party and indulge in confectionary delights. And if you like pumpkin spice, throw that in there too! What’s not to love!? So get involved and start licking the candy shell to get to that Tootsie Roll centre, why dontcha!?

As you can see, art teachers have their reasons for being obsessed with Halloween and I would be surprised that after reading this, you don’t as well. Halloween is magical! It allows one to escape the rigours of everyday life and become Elsa…and just let it all go…




Graffiti Art vs. Street Art

Making Art

Write the Future is a distributor of spray paint products and also hosts a variety of workshops. It is a wonderful cross between gallery, art supply store and all around funky fresh place. I had the pleasure of attending their Spray Paint & Graffiti workshop and I will most definitely return for more writing in the future. See what I did there? Check them out here.



The workshop started with a presentation on the history of graffiti art. Our teacher explained the difference between street art and graffiti art and, to make my teacher proud, here is the difference. Graffiti art is generally someones name or tag without a message and street art is imagery with a message. Graffiti art is also about the movement and placement of that name. Ever wonder why there is so much graffiti on train cars? It’s because that name then moves and it can be seen further and farther.

From there, they got us sketching a throw-up which generally consists of a one color outline and one layer of fill-color. I found it quite difficult to create a balanced throw-up and it obviously takes a lot of practice to be able to consistently do it in a short amount of time. Mad respect!

After we finished our throw-ups on paper, we choose our spray paint colours (hardest decision of my life), nozzles and then made our way to the roof. There, they had provided us with stark white boards to practice on and gave us a brief introduction into different spray paint techniques. Ready. Set. SPRAY!

I found the shadow in black to be the most challenging as well as remembering to keep my wrist straight and instead to move my body to make my marks. I was a little unsure of my throw-up’s ‘coolness’ but as soon as I added the orange force field and the white highlights, my throw-up had a 14-year-old-skater-punk coolness to it. Eat your heart out Avril Lavigne!

Here are my fellow classmate’s throw-ups.

Through this experience, I have gained a new appreciation for graffiti art and more importantly, I will now accurately teach what it is and isn’t to my students. I am also excited and energised to continue experimenting with spray paint as a medium. Even though I don’t foresee myself tagging around town, I have gained a new respect for this unique art form the talented artists behind the cans.


DIY French Beret

Making Art

Beret’s can be expensive especially if you simply want to use them for a costume. Here in Hong Kong they run for $50 HKD ($8 USD) but with minimal effort, you can make one yourself for $8 HKD ($1.15 USD). I needed to provide 50 berets for teachers and staff to wear at an art auction and with a limited budget this with what I came up with.

Materials that you need include:

  • scissors
  • white chalk stick
  • felt (traditionally black but any colour will do)
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • paper for template
  • soft black felt
  • matching thread to the felt
  • sewing machine

Begin by creating a template. My template for the two larger circles of felt needed was 12 inches in diameter. For the hole in the hat, I used a 6 inch diameter template however, everyone’s noggin is different so adjust measurements according.

Simply trace your template on the felt with the chalk and cut out the circles. Use the smaller circle template to trace and cut out a hole in one of the two circles. Pin them together and then sew along the edge.


Lastly, turn the hat inside out and sew a small piece of the felt on top of the hat for the tail. Now, allow this to be the disclaimer, you should only use this hat for costume purposes. It will not keep you warm nor should it be worn in Paris. I am not liable for any Parisian violence or ‘beretting’ inflicted upon you.

Birds on a Branch

Making Art

Collaborative art is easy, right!? Put a beret on, give some kids some paint brushes, let them have at it, voilà! Wrong! Dead, wrong! Organising a group of adults or children to create a cohesive and effective work of art takes a lot of planning and preparation. I experienced this while helping facilitate a collaborative art piece that included 48 square canvases displayed as one work of art for our school’s art auction. I used systematic grids to help guide primary students through each step of the painting process.BIRDS ON A BRANCH-0001

I took inspiration from an artwork I pinned on Pinterest a few months ago. Below includes the steps to create a 10 x 10 collaborative acrylic painting of birds on a branch.

BIRDS ON A BRANCH-0001Step 1: Create a grid that will be a scale representation of the entire work as well as a guide for each individual canvas. On the back of each canvas, write a number that corresponds with a number on the grid. Then have students paint their canvas to match their number on the grid. Demonstrate how to blend the colours together and paint in the same upward direction.

Step 2: I painted the branch across all of the canvases once they were dry. This is something that students can do as long as you provide them with the grid so they know which part of the branch is in their section.

Step 3: I drew generic bird outlines in each grid square which the students used as a guide to draw that same outline on their canvas with a white coloured pencil.

Step 4: Students followed another grid to show them what base colours to paint their birds.

Step 5: Students followed the final grid to help them position the beak, eyes, legs and the feather detailing.

Step 6: Put the artwork together like a jigsaw puzzle and either you or your students can help touch up the branch to make sure it connects across the canvases and to also add leaves and details into the background.

If I were to do this project again, I would allow the students to trace the shape of the bird and then give them more freedom in painting the colour and style of bird. Although the piece works because it is stylized, I feel that I could have given student more structure in certain places and more freedom in others. In the end, both myself and students feel proud and happy of their work. Now lets see what the auctioneers will think.